Home > Mac administration, Mac OS X, Office 2011 > Saved application states and Office 2011 EXC_BAD_ACCESS application crashes

Saved application states and Office 2011 EXC_BAD_ACCESS application crashes

I had an interesting issue crop up yesterday. One of our users sent in a ticket to report that Word 2011 on her laptop kept crashing with an EXC_BAD_ACCESS error. None of her other Office 2011 applications were exhibiting the behavior; it was specific to Word 2011.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 10.33.23 AM

When this error has cropped up in the past, I’ve fixed it in the past by removing Word’s Normal.dotm template from /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates or removing the com.microsoft preference files for the affected application from /Users/username/Library/Preferences.

So this time, I moved the following files to a new folder that I created on the user’s desktop:

/Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates/Normal.dotm

Then I logged the user out, asked them to log back in and had them relaunch Word. Crash. EXC_BAD_ACCESS error again. This was going to be an unusual one…

I double-checked to make sure that both the files I had moved had not recreated themselves. They hadn’t, Word had crashed before being able to detect that those files were not there.

I then spent the next hour doing the following:

1. Logging in as my local administrator to confirm that issue seemed to be confined to the user’s account.

Result: Word launched fine and without errors while logged in from the local admin.

2. Moving all of the various com.microsoft preference files and the Microsoft folder from /Users/username/Library/Preferences to the folder I had set up on the Desktop.

Result: Crash. EXC_BAD_ACCESS error.

3. Renaming /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft to /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft_backup to force the OS to create a new /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft folder with default settings.

Result: Crash. EXC_BAD_ACCESS error.

4. Booting from a NetBoot utility disk and clearing the contents of the following cache folders on the user’s boot drive:


5. While still booted from the utility NetBoot, running DiskWarrior and a permissions repair on the user’s boot drive to make sure all my bases were covered.

After rebooting from NetBoot back to the user’s boot drive, I asked my user to log in again and relaunch Word. Crash. EXC_BAD_ACCESS error again. But this time, I caught a small “opening file” screen that was gone in an eyeblink because Word crashed immediately after the screen appeared. Word had been trying to open a file. Why? How? All the work I had done should have cleared out Word’s listing of recent files.

I stopped at that point and just thought through the process for a minute or so. Then I went into /Users/username/Library/Saved Application State and moved the com.microsoft.Word.savedState folder to the folder on the user’s desktop where I had been storing the other files that I had moved. After that, Word launched without a single error.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 11.48.51 AM

What had happened?

My user had been editing a file when Word initially crashed. When I asked her to open the file in question, Word instantly crashed with an EXC_BAD_ACCESS error. In the initial crash, the file had somehow corrupted.

After that, Word got trapped in a cycle. When Word launched, it queried the saved state which told it to open this file. When Word tried to open the file, it crashed instantly. On restart, it queried the saved state again. Saved state told it to open this file; CRASH. The only way to break out of the cycle was to get the saved state out of the loop, which allowed Word to launch without trying to open the corrupted file.

Fortunately, the document in this case was a file that the user had received that day via email from a colleague. They were able to recover the original file from her email and were able to save and edit the new copy of the document without Word crashing.

Saved states aren’t unique to Microsoft applications and any application on OS X that’s been updated to support saved states may also exhibit this behavior. If you see an application repeatedly behaving oddly on launch, try moving the corresponding saved state folder out of /Users/username/Library/Saved Application State and see if the behavior clears up.

  1. Ben Toms
    July 26, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    I guess we’ve been lucky & not seen this as we disable resume.

  2. LeAnn
    August 11, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Thank you so much for this! I have no users with this issue at the moment, but it will be something I will remember for future use. I appreciate having other admins share info like this.

  3. December 11, 2014 at 9:27 am

    many, many thanks!

  4. Ron
    January 20, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    I have encounter the same error…performed all above actions, with no relief from the reoccurrence of this error. I wonder if any one else has gone through these steps with no results? The umpteenth time of seeing this log…and was hopeful with the last action of clearing the saved state items.

    Microsoft Error Reporting log version: 2.0

    Error Signature:
    Exception: EXC_BAD_ACCESS
    Date/Time: 2015-01-20 16:01:40 +0000
    Application Name: Microsoft Word
    Application Bundle ID: com.microsoft.Word
    Application Signature: MSWD
    Application Version:
    Crashed Module Name: Microsoft Word
    Crashed Module Version:
    Crashed Module Offset: 0x002789d3
    Blame Module Name: Microsoft Word
    Blame Module Version:
    Blame Module Offset: 0x002789d3
    Application LCID: 1033
    Extra app info: Reg=en Loc=0x0409
    Crashed thread: 0

  5. Debra Draves
    April 12, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    I am experiencing EXC_BAD_ACCESS crashes with Outlook 2011 – Have rebuilt database, set up a new identity, reset permissions without any relief. It happens only after the application tries to download new mail (app is okay if offline or isn’t auto-querying for new mail) – Please help.

    • krishna
      August 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      Hi, i have the same issue. May I know whether your issue was resolved. if so, what was done pls

      • krishna
        August 16, 2015 at 4:00 pm

        just to confirm, i am using mac n it is outlook2011

  6. Andrew Nicholas
    June 4, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    You might want to check your fonts and make sure there aren’t any errors, or just restore from defaults if possible.

  7. tim
    October 16, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Thanks so much – I had the same problem in Outlook (very strange behaviour followed by crashing on startup, even after a rebuild), and this fixed it immediately

  8. Marcos Munoz
    August 31, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Years after this post was written and I am seeing this issue in Lync v14.4.1. Nothing has worked for me and it is definitely a profile-specific error

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